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DONETSK, November 1. /TASS/. Militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) exchanged prisoners of war with Kiev’s military on the formula ’25 for 25’ on Saturday, a TASS correspondent reported from the area.
The swap of prisoners took place in the neutral territory near the town of Konstantinovka (50 kilometres from the city of Donetsk).
Several women were among those released by the Ukrainian side and one of them called Yelena Blokha told the TASS correspondent that “I was held in captivity for three months after I had been detained on my way to Crimea and it was regarded as a crime.”
Blokha, who is the editor-in-chief of an official publication of the Donetsk city council, said that being a journalist was a reason for her detention as she allegedly “was wrongly covering events in conspiracy with the DPR authorities.”
“If so, all the international journalists who happen to be in Donetsk are involved in terrorism, according to Ukrainian military,” she said.
Many men that Kiev troops gave to militias have visible signs of bruising on their faces and bodies. The men said that at the moment of detention and under arrest they had been roughly beaten up so that guards had not taken them out for interrogations for weeks.
The deputy head of the DPR committee for refugees and prisoners of war, Liliya Rodionova, told TASS that talks would be continued with Kiev on other swaps of prisoners of war.
Exchange of prisoners of war was a key provision of the agreements reached at a Minsk meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine on September 5. Since then, there have been five such swaps in the Donetsk People’s Republic: 37 for 37, 70 for 70, 38 for 38, 28 for 28, and 30 (Ukrainian troops) for 60 (militias); and one swap in the Luhansk People’s Republic - 13 militias were exchanged for 14 Ukrainian troops on October 14. On October 28 Kiev released eight militias and Luhansk - seven Ukrainian troops.